When organising your next ski trip for the family, picking a resort that is going to work for everyone can feel like a bit of a challenge. So to help with your planning, we’ve outlined some factors to consider and recommend our favourite family friendly resorts in both Canada and the USA, that in our mind, come out on top.
First things first – Check out the slopes
It’s a ski holiday so everyone wants to spend time on the slopes. Check out the resorts stats to make sure the mountain has plenty of suitable slopes for both the adults and the little ones. The resort stats don’t tell the whole story though so check out the trail map as well to see what chairs the whole family can ride together. Are there different routes from the top of the chair for all abilities – remember timid skiers don’t want to get stuck at the top of a challenging black run that is the only way back down to the village!
North American resorts are great at providing dedicated learning zones at mid-mountain level which are recognised slow zones to practice on – they are usually highlighted on the trail maps. So check out the resort trail map to see if there is a family friendly zone on the mountain where the whole family can spend the day skiing together.
Walk less – select slope-side accommodation
Finding the right ski in, ski-out property is key to making sure your ‘morning commute’ to the first chairlift of the day is tantrum free. Staying slope-side will provide a hassle free start (and end) to each ski day. Check out the trail maps again and see where the kids ski school is located and how easy it will be for your kids to get from your slope-side accommodation to kinder class or ski class.
It’s not always just about the skiing
It’s a good idea to look at what other facilities the resort has to offer for when the kids are too tired to ski all day. While some resorts are more suited to expert skiers who live to be on the mountain all day, some North American resorts specifically aim to offer a wide range of facilities for the whole family, such as, spas for mum to enjoy, snow tubing, kids adventure zones, swimming pools, ice rinks and cinemas to ensure everyone has a great holiday.
Our top resort pick in Canada: Whistler
If your kids are confident intermediate skiers then head for Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. This resort has it all both on and off the slopes.
The pedestrian friendly Village and Village Stroll areas offer a wide range of hotel and condo style accommodation options close to both the ski school and Village chairlifts. The Whistler Village base area is compact and friendly and there are a wide range of facilities off the slopes.
On the slopes it’s good to know that there is a blue run (intermediate) way down from the top of every lift – so confident turners shouldn’t find themselves in terrain they can’t handle. The resort also runs ‘meet the mountain’ tours which are complimentary guided tours aimed at intermediates and are a great way to get to know the ski area quickly. Whistler Mountain also has a dedicated family area. This zone, which is also great for intermediates, is at the top of the Whistler Village Gondola and is serviced by the Emerald chair.
For younger members of the family, Whistler has a dedicated Children’s Learning Centre which is located at the mid station of the Village Gondola. Ski School uses this as a dedicated beginners area and there are gentle green runs which lead back into the Village. The Children’s ski school is located at the top of the Village stroll and next to the Village Gondola. Perfect – if you’re staying slope-side.
Our top resort pick in the USA: Breckenridge
For many British skiers, Breckenridge is their first taste of skiing in the USA – and for good reason. Breckenridge is the quintessential North American ski town. With an impressive ski area spread across five excellent mountains, an efficient lift system and pastel painted buildings that line the streets in the historic mining village, you have one of the best all round ski towns in North America. The large ski area here offers a good variety of terrain for all abilities and the natural layout of the ski runs allows for groups and families to ski together.
There are three main base areas in Breckenridge. If you select to stay in Beaver Run on the lower slopes of Peak 9, or the Village, located a few hundred yards below the Quicksilver Super Chair at the base of Peak 9 your accommodation options will be steps away from the snow. On the slopes, Peak 9 is the best terrain for beginners and less confident skiers to enjoy.
Beaver Run is a great place for families to stay – it’s right on the snow and you can ski back to the door at the end of your ski day. The ski school has one of its offices onsite – which is great for organising the kids in the morning and the accommodation complex has a fantastic indoor swimming pool to keep the little ones busy after the chairlifts stop turning. You’ll never really need to leave the complex after your ski day as it has everything you’ll need right on site, but if you fancy a stroll down into the Main Street, its only a short 5 minute walk away. A perfect choice for families visiting Breckenridge for the first time.